Charles Thomas (historian)

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Charles Thomas
Born Antony Charles Thomas
(1928-04-26) 26 April 1928 (age 87)
Camborne, Cornwall
Nationality British
Occupation Archaeologist, Historian, Author
Title Professor of Cornish Studies at Exeter University
Spouse(s) Jessica Mann

Antony Charles Thomas, CBE, FSA (born 26 April 1928[1]) is a British historian and archaeologist who was Professor of Cornish Studies at Exeter University, and the first Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies, from 1971 until his retirement in 1991. He was recognised as a Bard of the Cornish Gorseth with the name Gwas Godhyan in 1953.[2]

Birth and education[edit]

He was born 26 April 1928,[3] the son of Donald Woodroffe Thomas and Viva Warrington Thomas, his wife.

He was educated at Winchester College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, receiving a BA Honours degree in Jurisprudence. He received a Diploma in Prehistoric Archaeology from the University of London and was appointed a Fellow of University College, London in 1993. He received a Doctor of Literature degree from Oxford University in 1983.[1]

Academic career[edit]

He was Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh from 1957 to 1967. From 1967 to 1971, he was Professor of Archaeology, University of Leicester. During this period, he became a FSA in 1960 and was awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship[4] for 1965 to 1967.[1]

He founded and established the Institute of Cornish Studies and launched and edited its learned journal, Cornish Studies. He defined its field as:[5]

"the study of all aspects of man and his handiwork in the regional setting (Cornwall and Scilly), past, present and future. The development of society, industry and the landscape in our fast changing world is as much of concern … as the history of those vast topics in the recent and remote past."

In 1983, he was awarded a Doctorate of Literature by the University of Oxford. He was Sir John Rhys Fellow of the University of Oxford and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College from 1985 to 1986.

He retired as Director of the Institute in 1991; became an Emeritus Professor of the University of Exeter in 1993; and was awarded an Emeritus Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust (1993–95).

Archaeological work[edit]

He was Director of excavations at Gwithian, Cornwall (1949–1963).[6]

Roles in organizations[edit]

Learned societies

He was a Board Member of the Royal Institution of Cornwall and Honorary Librarian of its Courtney Library until 2011,[7] having previously served as its president in 1970-1971. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and was President of the Council for British Archaeology 1970-1973.[8]

He was President of the Cornwall Archaeological Society[9] 1984–88 and of the Society for Medieval Archaeology, 1986–89.[10]

He has been President of the Society for Landscape Studies[11] since 1993. He was president of the Cornish Methodist Historical Association in 1993. He was Chairman of the Society for Church Archaeology,[12] 1995–98.


He has been Chairman of the BBC South West Regional Advisory Council, 1975–80; of the Department of the Environment Area Archaeology Committee, Cornwall and Devon, 1975–79; and of the Cornwall Committee for Rescue Archaeology 1976–88.

He was a Member of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England), 1983–97, its Acting Chairman, 1988–89 and Vice Chairman, 1991–97).[13]


See full Biography in Gathering the Fragments, 2012, pp. 177–183, ISBN 1908878037.

Personal life[edit]

He has been married to the writer Jessica Mann since 1959.[17] The couple were married a week after Mann completed her Cambridge finals in 1959, and have two sons and two daughters.[18][19]


Key publications (in date order)[edit]

Alphabetical list of publications (incomplete)[edit]

  • An Archaeological Survey of the Rame Peninsula. Institute of Cornish Studies. 1974.
  • 'An Archaic Place-name Element from the Isles of Scilly'; The Bulletin Board of Celtic Studies, Vol XXVIII, Pt II, May 1979, pp. 229–233.
  • And shall these mute stones speak?: post-Roman inscriptions in western Britain; Cardiff : University of Wales Press, 1994. ISBN 0-7083-1160-1
  • 'Archaeology and Local Government', New Approaches to our Past, T C Carvill (ed), University of Southampton Department of Archaeology, 1978, pp. 63–77.
  • 'Archaeology in Cornwall'; Summer Meeting Programme, Royal Archaeological Institute, 1973, pp. 10–13.
  • Bede, Archaeology, and the Cult of Relics: Jarrow Lecture 1973; 1973
  • Britain and Ireland in Early Christian times : A.D. 400-800; Library of medieval civilization series; London : Thames and Hudson, 1971 ISBN 0-500-56002-1
  • The Bronze Age In the South West, Papers In Regional Archaeology series, 1; Bristol : Univ. of Bristol, Archaeological Review, 1969
  • 'Bronze Age Spade Marks at Gwithian, Cornwall'; The Spade in Northern and Atlantic Europe, Alan Gailey and Alexander Fenton (eds), Ulster Folk Museum, Institute of Irish Studies, Belfast, 1970, pp. 10–17.
  • 'Carwynnen Quoit'; Camborne Festival Magazine, November 1985, pp. 14–15.
  • "The character and origins of Roman Dumnonia"; Article from Rural Settlement in Roman Britain (Council for British Archaeology Research Report 7), 1966, pp. 74–98.
  • Christian Antiquities of Camborne; H.E. Warne, 1967
  • Christian Sites In West Penwith Excursion Guide : Saturday, 6 April 1968 / The Society For Medieval Archaeology and the Cornwall Archaeological Society ; Truro : Cornwall Office Services (printers), 1968
  • Christian sites in West Penwith : excursion guide, Thursday 27 June 1974 [for] the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland; [Redruth], Institute of Cornish Studies, 1974. General note '... produced for the RSAI Summer Conference (Penzance), 1974 ISBN 0-903686-04-X
  • Christianity in Roman Britain to AD 500 ; London : Batsford Academic and Educational, c1981. ISBN 0-7134-1442-1.
  • 'Chun Castle and Quoit'; Summer Meeting Programme, Royal Archaeological Institute, 1973, pp. 56–59.
  • The cliff castle at The Rumps, St. Minver (Series: Cornwall Archaeological Society. Field Guides; no.9 ); Cornwall Archaeological Society, 1963.
  • 'Coast and Cliff Names of Gwithian and the North Cliffs'; Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall New Series Vol.5, Pt.1, 1965, pp12–36; with corrections and additions in Vol.5, Pt.3, 1967, pp291–6.
  • 'The context of Tintagel : a new model for the diffusion of Post-Roman Mediterranean imports'; Cornish Archaeology 27, 1988, pp. 7–25; also offprint(Institute of Cornish Studies Varia series, No. 8).
  • Cornish Chapel Stories; Lambessow : Summaries and Plain Digits, 2008 [compiled and edited under the nom de plume 'Cornubiensis'].
  • 'Cornish Dialect Studies 2: Cornish Dialect Derivatives of Middle English stoc 'stump', sticken 'to stick' '; Cornish Studies 6, 1978, pp14–19. ISBN 0-903686-28-7.
  • 'Cornish Dialect Studies 3: Arthur Rablen's 1937 Essay'; Cornish Studies 8, 1980, pp37–47. ISBN 0-903686-32-5.
  • Cornish Studies and Cornish Topics : Some Notes on the Scheme of Subject-headings, in Use in the Catalogue of the Library at Lowenac, Camborne; Worthing : E. D. Paine [Printing], 1970
  • "Cornish Volunteers In the Eighteenth Century (1745-1783)"; in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, Vols. 27-28, 1956-61 Note: also includes Cornish Volunteers In the Early Nineteenth Century (1803–1808).
  • 'The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Museum Project (preliminary report)'; Cornish Studies 8, 1980, pp63–64. ISBN 0-903686-32-5.
  • The early Christian archaeology of North Britain : the Hunter Marshall lectures delivered at the University of Glasgow in January and February 1968; London : Oxford University Press for the University of Glasgow, 1971 ISBN 0-19-214102-3
  • Excavation of a Dark Ages Site, Gwithian Cornwall : Interim Report ; West Cornwall Field Club, [1954]
  • Excavations at Tintagel parish churchyard Cornwall, spring 1990 : interim report / Jacqueline A. Nowakowski and Charles Thomas; Cornwall Archaeological Unit, 1990. ISBN 1-871162-90-4
  • Exploration of a drowned landscape : archaeology and history of the Isles of Scilly / Charles London : Batsford, 1985. ISBN 0-7134-4853-9
  • Fletcher's Lane; Lambessow : Summaries and Plain Digits, 2012 [Fiction][20]
  • "A Glossary of Spoken English In the Isles of Scilly" in Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 1979
  • "Grass-marked Pottery In Cornwall" in Studies In Ancient Europe; 1968.
  • Grave news from Tintagel : an account of a second season of archaeological excavation at Tintagel Churchyard, Cornwall, 1991 / Jacqueline A. Nowakowski and Charles Thomas with a contribution from Chris Crowe; Truro : Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Cornwall County Council and Institute of Cornish Studies, University of Exeter, 1992
  • Greg McGrath, Badlands Ranger: A Gripping Tale of the Utah Panhandle; Lambessow : Summaries and Plain Digits, 2011 [Fiction][21]
  • Gwithian : notes on the Church, parish and St. Gothian's Chapel; Redruth : Earles Press, 1964
  • Gwithian : Ten Years' Work (1949–1958); Gwithian : West Cornwall Field Club Excavation Staff, 1958
  • The henge monuments at Castilly, Lanivet (Series: Cornwall Archaeological Society. Field guides No.8); P.A.S. Pool, 1962
  • 'Hermits on Islands or Priests in a Landscape'; Cornish Studies 6, 1978, pp28–44. ISBN 0-903686-28-7.
  • The history of Christianity in Cornwall : AD 500-2000 / Charles Thomas and Joanna Mattingly ; Truro : Royal Institution of Cornwall, 2000 ISBN 1-898166-14-5 (Published to accompany Millennium Exhibition commencing 11 December 1999)
  • The importance of being Cornish : an inaugural lecture delivered in the University of Exeter on 8 March 1973 / Exeter : University of Exeter, 1973 ISBN 0-900771-80-1
  • The Institute's Cornish dialect project : progress report on the first nine months' work, July 1978 to March 1979 / Adam Sharpe and Charles Thomas; Redruth : Institute of Cornish Studies, 1979. (Special reports / Institute of Cornish Studies ; no.4) ISBN 0-903686-20-1
  • The island of St. Patrick : Church and ruling dynasties in Fingal and Meath, 400-1148 / Ailbhe MacShamhráin, editor ; [Charles Thomas ... et al.]; Dublin : Four Courts Press, c2004. ISBN 1-85182-867-2
  • Irish colonists in south-west Britain; Redruth : Institute of Cornish Studies, 1973
  • "The Irish Settlements In Post-roman Western Britain : A Survey of the Evidence" in Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall New Series, Vol.6, Pt.4, 1972, pp251–274.
  • Is Archaeology Necessary? : Presidential Address, Section H, British Association For the Advancement of Science, Bath, September, 1978; Pool : Institute of Cornish Studies, 1978
  • John Harris of Bolenowe, poet and preacher, 1820-1884 : a tribute : a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, Monday 19 March 1984 by Charles Thomas for the Cornish Methodist Historical Association, 1984.
  • "Lyonesse Revisited : The Early Walls of Scilly"/ Peter Fowler and Charles Thomas in Antiquity, Vol.53, No.209, November 1979. pp. 188–189.
  • The medieval Cornish drama / editor Charles Thomas (Series Special bibliography ; No. 3); Bosgea : Cornwall Archaeological Society, 1969
  • Merther Uny, Wendron / Charles Thomas director (Series Field guide ; 11); St Ives (Cornwall) : Cornwall Archaeological Society, 1968 ISBN 0-9500308-0-5
  • Methodism and self-improvement in nineteenth century Cornwall, (Series: Cornish Methodist Historical Association. Occasional publications; no.9 ); Cornish Methodist Historical Association, 1965
  • Military insignia of Cornwall/ D. Endean Ivall and Charles Thomas; Publication Date: 1974; Pool, Redruth: Penwith Books (for the) Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry Regimental Museum, ISBN 0-903686-07-4 and Supplement: 1976 ISBN 0-903686-14-7
  • "The "Monster" Episode in Adomnan's Life of St. Columba" in Cryptozoology 7, 1988, pp38–45.
  • Mr Holmes in Cornwall : a critical explanation of the late Dr. Watson's narrative entitled "the Devil's foot" / by Percy Trevelyan; Redruth : Penwith, 1980 ISBN 0-903686-31-7 Written by Charles Thomas as the fictitious Percy Trevelyan, M.D. "Originally published, Inverness , Printed by Carruthers, 1927"
  • Mrs Percival's endowed school at Penponds and Treslothan Camborne : 1761 to 1876; Redruth (Institute of Cornish Studies), 1982. ISBN 0-903686-38-4
  • "Ninth-century Sculpture In Cornwall : A Note" in British Archaeological Reports: Anglo-Saxon and Viking Age Sculpture and Its Context...edited by James Lang" , 1978.
  • "Notes on the Late Bronze Age Site at Gwithian Cornwall : Gwithian 1957" / Issued by the Excavation Staff ; Series: Field Guide ; No.4; West Cornwall Field Club, 1957
  • Penzance market cross : a Cornish wonder re-wondered ; Penzance : Penlee House Gallery & Museum, 1999
  • People and Pottery In Dark Age Cornwall: Series Field Guide ; No.6 ; West Cornwall Field Club, 1960 (Reprinted From Old Cornwall, Vol.v, No.11, 1960 )
  • Phillack Church : an illustrated history of the Celtic, Norman and medieval foundations; Publisher British Publishing Co, 1961 New editions 1969 and 1977
  • A preliminary hand-list of the guide books to the Isles of Scilly (from 1816) / (compiled by Charles Thomas) Special bibliographies series, no.4 ; Redruth : Institute of Cornish Studies, 1978
  • The principal antiquities of the Land's End district (with Peter Pool): 1954 ; also: 2nd Edition 1956; 3rd Edition 1957; 4th Ed. 1959 , 5th Ed. 1960; 6th Ed. 1961; 7th Ed. 1962, 8th Ed. 1963, 9th Ed. 1964; 10th ed. 1965, 11th Ed. 1966; 12th Ed 1967;13th Ed. Revised 1968; 14th Ed 1969; 15th Ed. Revised, 1970; 16th Ed. 1980.
  • A provisional list of imported pottery in post-Roman Western Britain & Ireland / Charles Thomas ; (with an appendix on Tintagel by O.J. Padel); Redruth : Institute of Cornish Studies, 1981. Special report of the Institute of Cornish Studies series ; no.7. ISBN 0-903686-33-3
  • Real Cornish Humour; Lambessow : Summaries and Plain Digits, 2008 [compiled and edited under the nom de plume 'Cornubiensis'].
  • Research objectives in British archaeology, edited by Charles Thomas; London : Council for British Archaeology, c1983. ISBN 0-906780-32-2
  • Rural Settlement in Roman Britain: Papers Given at a C.B.A. Conference Held at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford, January 1 to 3, 1965, edited by Charles Thomas; Series CBA research reports, no.7 ; London :Council for British Archaeology, 1966
  • The Sacrifice In Cornwall, Series: Studies In the Folk-lore of Cornwall, no.2; 1952
  • "Scilly's statue-menhir rediscovered" / Paul Ashbee & Charles Thomas in Antiquity, vol.64, no.244, September 1990
  • The story of Gwithian Chapel : (Gwithian Methodist Church) ; [Truro : Charles Thomas, 1999]
  • The Taboo in Cornwall, (Series: Studies in the Folk-lore of Cornwall, No.1 ); 1951
  • Three early accounts of the Isles of Scilly : James Beeverell, 1707, Graeme Spence, 1792, Henry Spry, 1800 / edited by Charles Thomas; Redruth  : Penwith Books, 1979. ISBN 0-903686-22-8
  • Tintagel Castle / [text by Charles Thomas] ; English Heritage Publication Date: 1986 ISBN 1-85074-118-2
  • To the lighthouse': the story of Godrevy light, Cornwall ; Truro : Summaries and Plain Digits, 1985. ISBN 0-903686-45-7
  • "Topographical Notes. - 3 : Rosnat, Rostat, and the Early Irish Church" From Ériu, Vol.xxii, 1971
  • Trencrom Hill : A Property of the National Trust ; Camborne : Camborne Printing and Stationery Co., 1957
  • "Types and Distribution of Pre-Norman Fields In Cornwall and Scilly", (Series: British Archaeological Reports ; 48: Early Land Allotment In the British Isles. a Survey of Recent Work. Edited by H.C. Bowen and P.J. Fowler), 1978
  • Views and likenesses : early photographers and their work in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 1839-1870 ; Truro : Royal Institution of Cornwall, 1988. ISBN 1-871294-00-2
  • "Vita Sancti Paterni: The Life of Saint Padarn and the Original Miniu", Trivium 33 (2003)(with David Howlett).
  • What do we want from regional broadcasting? : a report of a seminar held at Truro, 28 June 1978 by the BBC South-West Regional Advisory Council / edited by Charles Thomas; Redruth : Institute of Cornish Studies, 1978. Special reports of Institute of Cornish Studies series; no.3; ISBN 0-903686-16-3
  • Whispering reeds : or, the Anglesey Catamanus inscription stript bare : a detective story ; Oxford : Oxbow, 2002. ISBN 1-84217-085-6

References & notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Who's Who
  2. ^ List of new Bards during the 1950s -Gorseth Kernow official website.
  3. ^ Antony Charles, son of Donald Woodroffe & Viva Warrington Thomas. Born 26 April 1928 and baptized (presumably at Camborne Wesley Chapel) 10 June 1928 (Cornwall Record Office: MR/CB/902, No 41, page 15).
  4. ^ Leverhulme Trust website, giving current terms for research fellowships
  5. ^ ISC homepage.
  6. ^ Gwithian, Cornwall: Excavations 1949 - 1963, project summary on English Heritage website.
  7. ^ This position is now held by Bernard Deacon. Pers. comm. with Charles Thomas, 4 Jan 2012.
  8. ^ University of Wales press description of author. and Who's Who
  9. ^ Cornwall Archaeological Society website
  10. ^ Society for Medieval Archaeology
  11. ^ Society for Landscape Studies website.
  12. ^ Society for Church Archaeology website
  13. ^ This body is now called Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England and is generally known as "English Heritage".
  14. ^ Now a constituent college of the University of Wales, at Lampeter
  15. ^ "The Frend Medal, named after its donor, our Fellow William Frend. It is awarded for contributions to knowledge of the archaeological and material remains of the early Christian Church." SAL website
  16. ^ First awarded in 1936, the Jenner Medal is presented to individuals in recognition of a serious body of work with Cornish history. It was named after Henry Jenner (1848-1934), first Grand Bard of the Cornish Gorseth. [1]
  17. ^ "Jessica Mann biography (official website)". Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  18. ^ Mann, Jessica (28 April 2012). "What do you mean, the good old days?". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ Who's Who[clarification needed]
  20. ^ This is the publication of a recently re-discovered typescript, originally written in 1951. Not available for purchase. Distributed only to family and selected friends.
  21. ^ This is the publication of a recently re-discovered typescript, originally written in 1945. Not available for purchase. Distributed only to family and selected friends.